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ON MARRIAGE.

217 ful judgment from a patient and merciful God. These wicked connexions matured human depravity, filled up the measure of man's iniquity, ripened a world for impending vengeance, banished the last lingering traces of piety from almost every heart, made this earth a scene of dreadful desolation, and hurried multitudes to the pit of eternal night. When the world was repeopled, the same cause produced in smaller circles effects not less deplorable. What made part of the daughters of Lot slight God's gracious warning to escape from perishing Sodom? They were married to some of its depraved inhabitants. What rendered those who did escape such monsters of impurity? Doubtless they had contracted this among those with whom they had too long conversed. What rendered Solomon, the wisest of men, an idolatrous fool ? What made him, once so favoured by God, once so devoted to his glory, an impious apostate, a worshipper of pagan abominations? “His wives turned away his heart after other gods, and he went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Zidonians; and Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites; and Chemosh, the abomination of Moab; and Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon."i The piety that erected God's most splendid temple, the wisdom that nations admired, could not shield him from the accursed influence of unhallowed connexions. When we see the wise Solomon become an aged infatuate apostate, bowing at an idol's shrine, because an impious wife adored that idol, need we wonder when we see professors of religion, that marry unbelievers, joining in the sins and follies that please an ungodly wife or husband ? and going like an ox to the slaughter where Satan leads them? What aggravated the crimes of impious Ahab, who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord ? Jezebel, his pagan wife, urged him forward in his career of iniquity, k

$10. The word of God not only represents such unhallowed unions as dangerous in the extreme, but expressly and absolutely forbids them. They were expressly forbidden to Israel of old. The reason of the case might sufficiently prove, that what was thus offensive to God under the lax dispensation of Moses, could not be less offensive under the more spiritual and holy dispensation of the gospel. But we are not left to (i) 1 Kings xi, 4,5, 7. (k) 1 Kings xxiv. 25. (1) Deut. vii. 3, 4. Neh. xiii. 26, 27.

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ON MARRIAGE. dubious inference. The Christian law upon this subject is decisive and plain. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers : come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord." Nothing can be a more complete violation of this law, than marriage with a person destitute of heavenly grace. In that case, instead of not being unequally yoked together with an unbeliever, the believer is voluntarily yoked till death dissolve the union, to one whom God esteems an unbeliever. Instead of coming out from such persons, the believer is permanently united to one in the closest of all connexions. Instead of being separate, a union is sought and formed, where the interests, hopes, cares, fears, business, pains, and pleasures of the parties, are all intimately mingled, and mingled for life. What can be more glaring rebellion against the Majesty of heaven ? What more wilful contempt of the giver of this law ?

The same law is given in expressions equally definite on another occasion. When the liberty of a female to marry is declared, it is said, “ She is at liberty to be married to whom she will, ONLY IN THE LORD." All considerations respecting property, or age, or temper, or health, or prospects, are left to the prudence of the parties ; but this one restriction God lays down, the believer must marry no one who is not in the Lord. The expression, in the Lord, is too common in the Scriptures for its meaning to be mistaken. It evidently signifies a person who is a partaker of saving grace, a true disciple of Jesus, à humble child of God. Among the in stances in which it occurs are the following: “ Timothy, my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord."n “ Are not ye my work in the Lord."O “I count all things loss, that I may win Christ, and be found in him.”p “ If any man be in Christ he is a new creature."I “ There is no condemnation for them who are in Chirst Jesus.” The meaning of this expres. sion being thus plain, the law itself cannot be obscure. The disciples of Jesus, as far as freedom from restriction on bis part is concerned, are at liberty to marry whom they will, only in the Lord.

$ 11. When we behold the conduct of many that profess religion, we might suppose that a law like this did not exist

2

(1) 2 Cor. vi. 14-18. (m) 1 Cor. vii. 39. (n) 1 Cor. ir. 17 (0) 1 Cor. ix. 1. (p) Phil, iii. 9. (9) 2 Cor. v. 17. (r) Rom. viile

ON MARRIAGE,

219 in the Bible. How many thoughtlessly intwine their affec* tions and interests with those who are utter strangers to the

way of peace-clasp in their arms the children of the wicked

one, and give their hearts to those whom Satan rules. E To arm you, if in any danger of insnarement, against this

common and destructive sin, consider that it is a great sin, a sin deeply dyed with wicked ingratitude. God is the giver of the law, which forbids your being yoked with an unbeliever, and which allows you to marry only in the Lord. And are not you under the greatest obligations to obey your

gracious God? Are not you under the strongest ties to love is him ? Are not you bought with that price, precious and in

valuable, the blood of Christ ? And are not you directed to ** do, whatever you do, “ to the glory of God ?'s Should not

you then yield your heart to him who has so loved you ? To encourage you to this he gives the most gracious promise possible, “ will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters.” Of what ingratitude would you be guilty, if with such a promise given by such a God, you trample under foot his righteous law!

§ 12. To break this law has all the guilt of rebellion against the authority of God. Idolatry, fornication, or adultery, you would esteem great crimes; for God abhors and forbids those crimes, but God as truly forbids unhallowed marriages; and they who marry strangers to religion, as truly rebel against God, as they who lead lives of unlicensed lewdness,

The sin committed by a believer in such case, is much ag. gravated by its being a wilful and deliberate sin. It is not a sudden fall, like Peter's; it is not a crime committed unawares, or to which persons are hurried in a moment of impetuous passion, but it is a deliberate and wilful crime. The young man, month after month, pursues the object on which he fixes his affections, though he knows that whatever charms she possess, she has not that one which excels all others, the charm of humble piety. The young woman, month after month, receives the addresses of her lover, though she is aware, that whatever worth he may possess, he is not a disciple of the Son of God. Thus the rebellion against the authority of God is wilful and continued, and month after month, and perhaps year after year, is the Most High insulted, by behold.

(s) 1 Cor. x. 31.

220

ON MARRIAGE. ing those who profess to serve him, wilfully, obstinately, and perseveringly transgressing one of his righteous laws.

This crime, great and aggravated in every case, receives a further aggravation in the case of men. They are not under that restraint which custom and modesty impose upon the tender sex. They may look around the whole circle of pious females with whom they are acquainted, to select one on whom the fondest affections of their hearts may repose; but when they, slighting all those with whom they enjoy or might obtain acquaintance, go into the world to look for the companion of their days, and fix upon a person who is a stranger to the religion of the gospel, their conduct is flagrantly criminal. It admits of no palliation or excuse. It is open, hardy, undisguised rebellion against the Lord of heaven and earth.

If the motives that lead to these unhallowed unions be examined, the guilt of those who contract them will not be lessened. In the least guilty it may be a rash and thoughtless affection. To those who are thus influenced it may be said, Shouldst thou love them that hate the Lord ? Surely those professors of religion, who out of love to a fellow-mortal, trample on the authority, and wilfully violate the laws, of the Lord of heaven and earth, plainly show that God is not the first in their affections, that the Saviour does not rule supreme in their hearts. They show that they prefer the objects of their choice to God and Christ, and thus, that in reality, they are joined to idols.

But many enter into such unlawful marriages, from the influence of other merely sordid motives. These see no peculiar personal attractions in the objects of their respective choice ; but they have more money than some, that in every other respect are their superiors, and who unite true piety with all their other recommendations. In such cases it is evident the law of God is broken merely for the sake of money, or other worldly advantage. What would you think of a person committing idolatry, or adultery, or swearing, or blasphemy, because he was paid to commit such crime? Would it not be thought a decisive proof, that he was destitute of the love and fear of God ? But why more so in this case than the other? He would break God's law for the sake of the money he hoped to gain by breaking it. And they, who for the sake

221

ON MARRIAGE. of money marry strangers to religion, as truly break God's law, and the motive is the same, money is the motive. This

is to pay them for their sin. They trample on God's authoErity, because they hope to be paid for doing so.

§ 13. Such being the guilt of entering into one of these unnatural marriages, it is not surprising that such conduct should be followed by effects mischievous in the extreme. No one is too cunning for God. Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.

The evils are numerous. In many cases the total loss of piety is the deplorable effect. In these sad cases the professor of religion gains the object of idolatrous affection, or acquires

the property thus sought, but it is at the dreadful price of eterE nal happiness, and the ruin of an immortal soul. Many who

once appeared promising fair for heaven, when united to fol. si lowers of the world, have forsaken the path of peace. Some

find in their unbelieving partners the decided enemies of religion ; others gradually imbibe the spirit of those with whom they are united. These tempt them to join in pleasures that they once abhorred; to neglect duties that they once loved; to profane the sabbath; to neglect their religious privileges; to slight their pious friends; to mingle with associates averse to piety, and to join with them in scenes of dissipation. Gradually, but too surely, the blighting, blasting infuence of the forbidden union is felt upon the soul. Religion languishesdeclines and dies. The day of their marriage is the day

that sets the seal to their eternal ruin. According to the lanį guage of the divine word, they marry, “ having damnation, because they have cast off their faith."

$ 14. Perhaps if you, who now read these pages, are inclined to form such a forbidden union, you are deluded with the hope of bringing the object of your attachment to the ways of peace. Alas, this is but delusion! It is not in your power to change another's heart, and you have no reason to hope that God will reward your sin by granting you the object of your wishes. When persons have been converted after marriage, in many cases husbands and wives have been the means of leading their respective partners to embrace religion also. Thus God has blessed them and their endeavours. But when those who knew religion have married those who knew it not,

(1) 1 Tim. v. 11.

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